Broiled chicken breast is so underrated. If you don’t have access to a grill, a natural inclination is to pan-fry or bake chicken breasts. That’s unfortunate as broiling produces a far superior chicken breast – beautifully caramelized on the outside, almost grilled-like, juicy on the inside, crusted with pieces of roasted garlic and herbs, and without all the extra fat that comes with pan-frying. It’s heavenly! Broiling is now my favorite method for cooking chicken breast indoors by far.
As much as I like my baked chicken breast, broiled chicken breast wins for the following reasons:
- Much faster cooking time. We are talking 10 minutes vs 60 minutes.
- Much more flavorful. The charring and caramelization you get from broiling is reminiscent of grilling. You’ll get none of that from baking.
The recipe below is for three average size chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise. I like broiling breasts cut in half because they cook faster and much more evenly. Full breasts also tend to dry out more toward the surface before they cook through all the way.
The number of chicken breasts in the recipe is not accidental. When broiling chicken breasts, you want to make sure that all of them are positioned directly under the heating element, otherwise they won’t caramelize. You’ll end up with a baked breast instead.
In most ovens broiler heating elements span about 11″-12″ side to side and front to back. Six half-breasts is the most you can fit directly under it. Probably four for large breasts.
There is another reason why fewer breasts is better. I once tried to broil 8 chicken breasts, 16 half-breasts, at the same time. I hoped to get the same results as I did with small batches but the results were quite disappointing. Even the breasts in the center of the extra large tray I used did not caramelize.
It was easy to guess why – the tray had a fair amount of water in it and the oven was heavily steamed. Too many chicken breasts and overcrowding resulted in too much liquid accumulating at the bottom of the tray, which created a steam room inside the oven. Don’t make that mistake. Do a couple of batches instead. It won’t take that much longer to do.
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper to taste
- Finely chopped fresh herbs, to taste (my favorite is fresh dill) (see note)
- Position the top rack about 3"-4" from the heating element. Set the oven to broil and let it preheat on high.
- Line a baking tray with foil.
- Carefully slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Spread on the baking tray. Rub each piece with a tiny amount of olive oil, about ½ teaspoon per half-breast, then sprinkle salt, pepper, cayenne, herbs and minced garlic. Pat to make sure the seasonings stick.
- Broil the breasts for about 3-5 minutes per side, until nicely browned and the internal temperature reads 165F. The broiling time will vary depending on the oven and the power of the heating element, proximity to the heating element, etc. Pay close attention to the chicken at all times as it will only need minutes to cook.